Battle plans drawn

District seeks support for 10-year, 6.73-mill levy.
Alissa Widman
Jun 18, 2013

Jason Bennett stood before a crowd Monday night to offer a simple but clear rallying cry.

As a contentious levy debate effectively divides the Perkins Schools community, Bennett urged a group of passionate levy supporters to consider it a unifying matter.

“The only way we’re moving forward is as a team, a community and as a cohesive school system,” Bennett said. “Put any personal interests aside and do this for our students and our school district.”

About 125 people gathered in the Perkins High School cafeteria for the kickoff meeting of Citizens for Perkins Schools, the district’s newly formed levy committee.

The group includes parents, teachers, school officials and township residents, all volunteers aiming to promote the district’s upcoming August levy.

The supporter turnout was at least 10 times that of the past levy campaign’s turnout, district communications director Chris Gasteier said.

“I won’t pass judgments as to why, because we’re just happy to see them here,” Gasteier said.

Perkins Schools is proposing a 10-year, 6.73-mill emergency operating levy on the August ballot, nearly 2 mills larger than a May proposal which voters overwhelmingly rejected. The levy would fund day-to-day operations for the district, including employee salaries and benefits.

Although the county auditor hasn’t yet certified its official amount, superintendent Jim Gunner has said the levy will cost the owner of a $150,000 home an additional $310 in taxes per year.

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This past week, board members approved about $2 million in district-wide reductions, including eliminating 15 staff members and hiking pay-to-participate fees to as much as $730 per sport for high school athletes. If voters approve the August levy, the cuts could be reversed and fees will return to normal.

Brandy Bennett, Citizens for Perkins Schools committee chair, organized Monday’s crowd into focused subcommittees with Jason, her husband. In the next couple months, subcommittee leaders will oversee various levy campaign efforts, including distributing signs, collecting funds, visiting residents door-to-door and dispersing information online and in-person.

“Everyone here is very passionate and ready to commit to getting this levy passed,” she said.

The group knows convincing a majority of township residents to vote in favor of the levy won’t be an easy task. Voters haven’t approved an emergency operating levy for the district since 2000, its only levy for new operating money in the past 18 years.

Still, the Bennetts are determined to do all they can to promote the cause. They moved to the area so their two children — now students at Perkins High School and Meadowlawn Intermediate School — could attend Perkins Schools. They don’t want to see the district’s stellar reputation marred by costly cuts, they said.

“There are still questions that need answered and still misinformation which we need to address,” Jason said. “We’re dedicated to doing it as a team. We’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Comments

Bherrle

The money generated by this levy will be used to restore most, if not all, of the staff cuts made at the June 12th board meeting. I say most if not all because it is possible the state will cut funding by more than it projects, and the district will not know this until July 1st or after. It will also reverse the "pay to play" fee structure. Beyond those two things, there will be no money left from the proposed levy to spend on anything else.

Permanent improvement funds (be they for renovations or new buildings) have been taken care of by the movement of millage (5.2 mills from outside to inside). There is no guareentee that the board won't do this again in the future, it is completely within their right to do so. However, they didn't do it secretly or unethically, there were three public meetings held on the issue, plenty of opportunity for disent to be voiced, and better ideas to be voiced, before the board voted on it. They made the move to ensure that there was PI money set aside, which is their responsibility. I imagine a lot of us would be upset at them if they knew renovations, repairs, or new buildings were needed (which one or more of these three are absolutley needed), and they didn't set aside any money to pay for it.

I do trust the board, I have to ask why you do not? I don't mean that sarcastically, I would really like to know? They are standing behind the direction that two 25 person community represented committees have recommended, and three independent inspections and results have recommended in the past 4-5 years. All of which have been made public numerous times. Some are saying it is being used as a scare tactic. I disagree. They are presenting the facts. Our buildings need to be replaced. Three independent inspections have deemed so. Some will say that the County Health Inspector & Fire Marshall said the buildings are fine. Those inpsections were for immediate health & safety threats. Not long term. They were not "structural inspections" by any means. The more time that passes, the greater risk of exposure to toxic elements (such as asbestos) becomes, the security issues don't go away, and the overall classroom environment doesn't get any better, among other things. If anyone disagrees with that, that's fine, that's your opinion. It's the boards responsibility to make that decision. We elect them to take on that responsibility. They don't take that responsibility lightly. They don't ask for more tax money from the public without understanding or feeling the impact (they are all taxpayers in this community.)

If anyone feels strongly that new buidlings are not needed, I urge you to take a tour of the existing buidlings yourself (which I am doing today at 10 AM), and review all of the inspection findings that have been made public. If you still feel that new buildings are not needed, that's fine, that's your opinion, but understand that you are disagreeing with experts (not one but several) on the matter.

In my opinion, it's not a question of "can we afford this?" We can't afford not to do it.

believeit

There are obviously different viewpoints about what this levy is about. Yes voters state that it is for operating expenses only and not a new facilities. Others state that it will eventually lead to a new school no matter what. Probably both are right based on interpretation. My question is, that if one levy (still keeping the district the lowest millage in the county) can take care of both problems, how is this a bad thing? Why do people who claim to to Perkins Proud want to be happy about having inferior facilities/programs? Do you brag to your friends, "Sure I live in Perkins, but I'm really excited about how I want it to fail".

fifteenthgreen

Inferior facilities to who?

44870 South

Inferior facilities???? Yes, agree compared to who? I've been in other schools, and Perkins is not bad at all. My God, there's buildings a century older in Sandusky that are still functioning! Why can't they simply slowly renovate what they have??? I think a lot of schools in the area would like to brand new facilities. I'd like a brand new car. I'd like to build a brand new house. New technology is the driving force behind 21st Century Academics, not new bricks.

citizen

Alissa and Matt-

Above are some great questions to do some investigating. It appears none of Gunner's supporters here can answer and Gunner and Board will not answer our questions on their website.

Matt, if you did half the hard-hitting journalism and reporting of Perkins Schools that you do of the city of Sandusky, we'd all have a lot more information.

Vote Informed

We can answer these questions, but Dr. Gunner himself would do a much better job. Please ask him at http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx and please be patient with his answer. Even better, attend the next board meeting.

fifteenthgreen

Please be patient. We'll eventually fix that "B Rating" and "Below" value added. Only been eight out of the last nine years in the toilet.

citizen

1. Define "financial stability"

2. How is Perkins projecting a $1 million+ INCREASE in revenue for this fiscal year, yet Gunner is stating multiple times he will have to "dismantle the district" and that the Perkins community "will no longer have a school district" if this levy does not pass?

3. Why did Gunner take out a $3,000,000 loan to design and plan new facilities if taxpayers voted it down multiple times overwhelmingly, Perkins is on the brink of financial ruin and the buildings are "on hold"?

......

We are waiting....

Vote Informed

1. Ask the board at http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx and be patient with their answer.

2. Incorrect. And if this levy fails and the next levy fails, it is predicted that the state will have to take over our school until we eventually pass a levy.

3. Dr. Gunner realized the current state of the buildings and decided they needed to be renovated/rebuilt. This lack of money came from cuts in state funding and the fact that we haven't passed an "additional funds" levy since 2000. The buildings are on hold.

citizen

1. I did. No reply. Why do you keep using this as an argument if you do not understand what it means?

2. Perkins Schools is projecting revenue of $22.9M for FY13. Actual FY12 revenues were $21.4M. That is an increase of appx $1.5M. Yet Perkins schools are on the verge of financial disaster.

3. If the buildings are on hold, why did he take out a $3,000,000 loan to design and plan them. That doesn't sound like "on hold" to me, does it to you? Rather it sounds like designing and planning them.

citizen

I will ask again, as Vote Informed clearly did not answer my questions.

1. Define "financial stability"

2. How is Perkins projecting a $1 million+ INCREASE in revenue for this fiscal year, yet Gunner is stating multiple times he will have to "dismantle the district" and that the Perkins community "will no longer have a school district" if this levy does not pass?

3. Why did Gunner take out a $3,000,000 loan to design and plan new facilities if taxpayers voted it down multiple times overwhelmingly, Perkins is on the brink of financial ruin and the buildings are "on hold"?

Vote Informed

1. Patiently wait for your response, as the BOE is obviously very busy.

2. There will be no "INCREASE," because if this levy fails, we will still be in debt and Dr. Gunner will furthermore have to dismantle the district unti we are taken over by the state.

3. Dr. Gunner took out this loan before we were put into this situation. The new buildings will eventually have to be built due to their condition. And yes, these plans are on hold.

Any further questions, I urge you to patiently wait for your response or call the BOE office. I hope this helps.

fifteenthgreen

Now they're too busy to answer questions. Hold please.................

Centauri

Will somebody please define "financial stability" as it applies to the Perkins School District in Ohio. Anybody?

How about if the Perkins School Board puts the answer on the Perkins School District's online site for all to see.

http://www.perkins.k12.oh.us/

Centauri

How about some input from former members of the school board?

fifteenthgreen

Psh!

44870 South

"The buildings are on hold"....so that means they are coming back in a few short years to ask for more money??? I went to the board meeting, but all I keep hearing is sound bites...Is the district planning on building a new campus....yes or no???

Vote Informed

I've also been to the board meetings. These building plans have been put on hold and the board doesn't know when building will commence as of yet.

believeit

There are obviously different viewpoints about what this levy is about. Yes voters state that it is for operating expenses only and not new facilities. Others state that it will eventually lead to a new school no matter what. Probably both are right based on interpretation. My question is, that if one levy (still keeping the district the lowest millage in the county) can take care of both problems, how is this a bad thing? Why do people who claim to to Perkins Proud want to be happy about having inferior facilities/programs? Do you brag to your friends, "Sure I live in Perkins, but I'm really excited about how I want it to fail".

44870 South

OHHH!! Yes! You figured it out...I'm so PROUD! I brag to all my out of town friends what a cluster**** this district is in. And I am sooooo excited for it to fail. Yeah...you pinned it. GO AWAY!!!

Strong Schools ...

We need to step up as a community and support our students in August. We want a "Cadillac" education but don't want to pay for it. We have only passed one levy for new money on 18 years. They levy was passed in 2000. It is time to step up and vote yes!

Centauri

"We want a "Cadillac" education but don't want to pay for it."

Why not a Chevy or Ford education?

The internet provides a wealth of information and education for those who want it.

Why not have online internet classes? No yellow note pads and no chalk boards. Why have brick and mortar buildings?

Vote Informed

At PHS, they offer online or mixed learning classes (half online half classroom) & at least my children have always complained about online classes and how they prefer traditional classroom teaching. Who would want a "Ford or Chevy" learning experience when we can give our children the "Cadillac or Audi" learning experience. I know I want the best education possible for my children, so I will be voting YES on the August levy.

citizen

One only purchases an Audi or Cadillac if they can afford it. Perkins clearly cannot afford an Audi or Cadillac.

By the way, Audi and Cadillac's serve the same purpose as Ford and Chevy's.

Strong Schools ...

Oh my...way to solve the problem. Vote Yes in August and keep our students in school!

fifteenthgreen

I wouldn't reward anyone in that district when it comes to education. Cadillac educations in a B Rated school, ranked 391st in the state. Joke!

believeit

Beyond the ratings numbers, which can be confusing at best, the fact is that every district in the area has open enrollment, yet Perkins is the only one with a waiting list.

fifteenthgreen

.....and with a "Below" value-added to go with their waiting list.

believeit

That's a pretty intense response. Sore spot?

believeit

All I was saying is that if a relatively inexpensive fix (it is NOT going to get cheaper over time), what's the problem? Personally, I would rather brag about how awesome my district's school is rather than how it's getting worse and being excited (or at least satisfied) about sending my kids elsewhere (something I'm sure they would be excited about as well).

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